$ 600,000 grant supports anti-racism education in New Haven public schools

The New Haven public school system and the Students for Educational Justice organization recently received a $ 600,000 grant to design anti-racist teaching practices and curriculum development in K-12 classrooms across the country. the city.

Brian Zhang

01:19 am, October 28, 2021

Contributing journalist

Daniel Zhao, senior photographer

The New Haven public school system – along with Students for Educational Justice, or SEJ – recently received a three-year grant of $ 600,000 to bolster their anti-racism education efforts.

The two organizations plan to work closely with the Anti-Racism Teaching and Learning Collective to develop and implement a more diverse curriculum in the K-12 public schools system. The grant was provided by the Advancing Community-School Partnerships fund of the Nellie Mae Foundation, which emphasizes collaborations between the public school system and community organizations. The grants awarded by this branch are often shared between two or more groups. For the Anti-Racism Education Project, which will allocate funds for professional development training and community advocacy projects for racial justice in schools, New Haven Public School’s Assistant Superintendent Ivelise Velazquez will oversee the $ 272,168 goes to the school district, the remaining $ 327,832 goes to SEJ.

“Systemic racism is something that impacts all aspects of education,” Velazquez said. “In order to dismantle systemic racism, we must consider every element of it policy, practice and procedure.

According to Velazquez, current educational standards in the United States capitalize on the “white and male perspective,” leaving other cultures out of the classroom conversation. She added that we need to do more than adhere to educational “objectivity and neutrality”, especially when such neutrality is “narrow” and fails to capture the histories and histories of communities of color.

Rather, schools should turn their attention to designing a more diverse curriculum that includes ethnic studies, said Vy Tran, the lead organizer of SEJ.

To combat educational standards present in the public school system, the district plans to use the grants to create a multi-faceted project that involves parents, students and teachers.

“This effort will require the commitment and ideas of the entire community,” said New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Iline Tracey.

According to Velazquez, the project will encompass four distinct areas, which will include ongoing professional workshops on culturally relevant pedagogy and working with school administration to enforce anti-racist policies and education.

In an email to the News, SEJ Executive Director Rashanda McCollum wrote that the district is awaiting approval from the Education Council to pilot a 12-week anti-racist teachers’ institute, where cohorts of teachers from the High school public schools in New Haven will reflect on personal racial identities, learn about racism in educational history and analyze models of teaching “for liberation.” According to McCollum, this particular program is expected to be in place by mid-November and will take place at least three times – once in each grant funding year.

Velazquez said much of promoting community engagement involves partnerships with local youth groups committed to equity in the classroom, such as YES.

“[SEJ] will develop a new series of trainings designed and led by NHPS students, ”McCollum wrote. “Our goal is to… enhance the experiences and voices of educators and students, using collaborative planning and decision-making processes, and holding shared responsibility for acting with a racial equity lens. ”

McCollum pointed out that the grant represents a change in attitude from students seated at a table sharing concerns to including their views in shaping district education policies.

YES is also working on projects outside of the grant that aim to achieve racial justice in public schools. Since 2019, the organization’s board members have sought input from New Haven public high school students on barriers to academic success and happiness. Both blanket responses alluded to the presence of police in schools as well as a lack of mental health resources, Tran said.

With these concerns in mind, the organization is also spearheading a new effort called the SOS Campaign. The campaign calls for the removal of student resource officers, saying schools should instead hire more school therapists of color, counselors and social workers to support students with their mental health and self-image.

The next SEJ event, “Dismantling Police Culture in Schools”, is scheduled to take place on Thursday 27 October.


Brian Zhang is a freshman at Davenport College.

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